Recreational fishers are often described as the 'eyes and ears of our river systems' and their unique knowledge is being sought as part of a project to determine support for shellfish reef restoration in NSW, Kylie Russell, Senior Manager Aquatic Environment, Coastal Systems, NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI) said. “We are canvassing recreational fisher knowledge of natural oyster and shellfish reefs, and their views on reef restoration, in an online survey which will allow the Department to build a more complete picture of where these reefs are still located,” Ms Russell said. “The loss of shellfish reefs in NSW is the result of a combination of impacts including historical harvesting, loss of suitable hard surfaces, water pollution and disease. “We’re reaching out to recreational fishers because they have an extensive knowledge of the estuaries they fish in and can provide great insight into the practicality of shellfish reef restoration in their backyard. “The results from this survey will allow DPI to work in partnership with the recreational fishing community on shellfish reef restoration and build on last year’s successful survey of the NSW oyster industry.” It is estimated that 99 per cent of oyster reefs in Australia have been lost, with only a handful existing in some bays and estuaries today. Shellfish reefs are complex, living structures made of aggregations of living shellfish and dead shell, such as oysters and mussels. “Shellfish reefs provide a wide range of free benefits to our waterways and coastal communities including water filtration and the provision of food, shelter and protection for a range of marine creatures including recreational fish species.” Ms Russell said. “Shellfish reef restoration, including oyster reefs, is one of the suggested mechanisms for restoring estuarine health including improving water quality and boosting fish stocks and is a key management action under the NSW Marine Estate Management Strategy. “Having recreational fishers participate in this survey and share their extensive knowledge will help us, and a variety of interested groups, to plan and implement future shellfish reef restoration projects. The long-term outcomes will be more fish and better water quality that the fishers can enjoy.” The Marine Estate Management Strategy is a 10 year whole of government plan to assist in achieving the vision of the marine estate of a healthy coast and sea, managed for the greatest wellbeing of the community, now and into the future. The survey is available via the Marine Estate Oyster Reef Restoration information page, or direct at Survey Monkey.
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